CHICAGO (CBS) Ron Guenther has served as the Director of Athletics for the University of Illinois for the last 19 years. On Monday, he announced that he would retire after the competition of his contract on June 30.

“The last 19 years have gone extremely fast and a decision to retire has been very difficult,” Guenther said in a statement. “I personally want to thank all the members of the DIA as well as our colleagues in the academic community for their support. I have been fortunate to work with an extremely talented and loyal group. I will always be indebted. Additionally, the Illinois fan base is the best in the nation. I’ve always said we are fortunate to have individuals who have great passion and loyalty for the University of Illinois.”

Guenther is currently the longest-tenured AD in the Big Ten. Under his leadership, Illinois has recorded 34 Big Ten Championships, made a men’s basketball Final Four appearance and made six football bowl appearances.

He has also been a member of the BCS Football Committee since its inception as well as as a member of the Bowl Certification Committee for seven years and as a member of the NCAA Championships Cabinet.

“During his tenure as athletic director, Ron Guenther has transformed Illinois athletics to a perennial Top 20 program that is known for its integrity,” said interim Vice President and Chancellor Bob Easter. “Under Ron’s leadership, our athletic facilities have become state-of-the-art and our programs to support student-athletes as scholars have become second to none. His achievements are world-class in every area – from a national champion runner-up basketball finish in 2005 to a ‘Program of Excellence’ award for the CHAMPS/Life Skills program to the Illinois Renaissance renovation of Memorial Stadium. Ron has been an exemplary leader, and our students will benefit from his vision for years to come.”

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